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iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews

Apple's iPhone 5 receives nothing but glowing early reviews. Everyone who's used it loves the bigger screen and LTE, but dings Apple Maps as inferior to Google's navigation app.

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
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Walter Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal was first out of the gate with his review of the Apple iPhone 5. Mr. Mossberg typically likes Apple's smartphones, and his opinion of the iPhone 5 is pretty high.

"Unlike many competitors, this isn't a plastic, insubstantial-feeling device," wrote Mossberg. "The iPhone 5 retains Apple's trademark, solid-feeling, metal construction, with an aluminum back this time, instead of a glass back. Like many Apple products, it's gorgeous."

Mossberg lauded the iPhone's new display, which fits more content, and heaped praise on the LTE radio, which scored blistering download speeds. He also pointed out that the device is significantly faster than previous models, takes better pictures (especially in the dark), and still manages to provide impressive battery life.

The biggest detraction for the iPhone 5 isn't the hardware, but Apple's custom-developed mapping program. I have to agree with Mr. Mossberg's assessment. I've been testing Apple Maps in iOS 6 for several weeks, and it simply doesn't offer the same, streamlined experience afforded by Google Maps. It gets the job done, but falls short of the features available to Android and Windows Phones.

In his conclusion, Mossberg forgave Apple's decision to leave out NFC and inductive charging, noting that these technologies are hardly commonplace.

[ The Apple rumor mill seems accurate. See iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit. ]

SlashGear's Vincent Nguyen also heaped praise on the new iPhone.

"Apple has come up with a phone that's thinner and more flexible in how it can be used, without sacrificing the features of the iPhone 4S," wrote Nguyen. "True, it doesn't tick every possible box on the spec sheet, but what it does deliver is a sensible compromise of day-to-day usability in both hardware and form-factor."

Nguyen points out phone calls are noticeably clearer in the earpiece. He was also particularly impressed with how well the iPhone 5's camera can stitch together panoramas. Nguyen believes that the Apple faithful will be extremely pleased with the device, though it may not be enough to bring back those who've defected to Android devices.

The title of TechCrunch's review, penned by admitted Apple freak MG Siegler, is "With iPhone 5, Apple Has Chiseled The Smartphone To Near Perfection." Yeah, MG likes it.

He leads off his review by stating, "I've had the opportunity to play around with the latest iPhone for the past several days. I won't beat around the bush: it's fantastic. Of course, you're probably expecting me to say that. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong. The fact of the matter is, you can either listen to me or lose out. You're going to want this phone."

MG praises pretty much every feature of the iPhone 5. Most importantly, he notes that anyone who's still holding onto an iPhone 4 (not the iPhone 4S) is going to be immensely pleased with the iPhone 5 as an upgrade.

Engadget's Tim Stevens heaped superlatives for the device, too.

"At 112 grams it's 20% lighter than the 4S, a figure that doesn't seem like it would make much of an impact," wrote Stevens. "It does--so much so that it's the lightness, not the bigger display or the thinness, that nearly everybody praises when first getting a chance to hold the iPhone 5 in their own hands."

Stevens didn't care all that much for the Lightning connector, though. Sure, he thought it was easier to slip the plug in and out, but it doesn't boost data transfer speeds at all because it is stuck with USB 2.0. No USB 3.0, nor Thunderbolt.

One theme common to all the reviews? Each says the iPhone 5 is the best iPhone yet.

The iPhone 5 goes on sale Friday, September 21. The 16 GB version costs $199, the 32 GB version costs $299, and the 64 GB version costs $399, all contingent upon a two-year wireless contract. All versions come in black or white.

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User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2012 | 10:15:24 PM
re: iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews
I agree with you but that's part of Apple's point. Up until now Apple has been leasing map from Google. That license has apparently expired. So time to re-evaluate and apparently (sadly) the Apple-Google feud was allowed to cloud the judgment.

Given the number of map features that have been available only on Android, it appears that Google didn't make all data available to Apple. Maybe the license didn't require or cover this. Whatever the case the old app was getting stale and it's not clear that Apple had the rights it needed to fix it.

So Apple made the call that they would prefer to have more control over their mapping technology and application. Not unreasonable and in the long run if they come up with their usual innovations it will heat up the competition and improve things for everyone.

Still, it may take them a couple of iterations to catch up but at least they call their own shots. There's a strong case to be made that they should have given us a fallback while we wait for that, perhaps re-licensing Google data and retaining the old app. Didn't happen.

If Google wants to track the travel activities of iPhone users going forward it will have to offer an app in the app store and that app will have to be superior to what Apple offers and what Google offered before. Apple should encourage this and let the app in if it's created. Give us a choice.

As for me though I use the Motion X application, which is as good as my Garmin for the most part.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2012 | 10:09:20 PM
re: iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews
Foolish, sorry. What Mossberg is talking about is not metal vs. glass. All phones are partly glass because the display wouldn't endure if it were not so.

The question is whether the non-glass part of the housing is metal or plastic. Nowadays most mfrs use plastic, albeit high grade plastic. Apple phones have always had all metal construction. So it's both fair and correct to say that metal and glass is Apple's tradition.

It's also fair to say that it makes for designs that most find sleek and elegant. The metal housing is more recyclable too. Still it's doubtful that by itself that drives folks' purchase decisions.
User Rank: Strategist
9/19/2012 | 6:40:37 PM
re: iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews
I do not own an iPhone or any other Apple product at the present time, but I've used other people's devices, including iPhone 4, iTunes, iPad Nano, and various Macbook models, and I've tried demo units of a couple of generations of iPad devices as well.

My impression? All of them are good, solid systems, but to me, you have to be an Apple fanatic to actually want one of them, and that is NOT me. I find them to be good, but grossly overpriced, regardless of the model. By the time they are affordable in comparison to other alternatives, they are out of date.

As for the iPhone 4 and its map software, a year ago three of us were car pooling to a weekend party on the other end of a metro area. Phone reception was excellent. We needed directions once we got in the area to know which side streets to turn on. One person in the car turned on their map software, and it sent us in the wrong direction.

I finally pulled out my Motorola Droid, turned it on, and it showed a map with highlighted directions. We stopped in a shopping plaza, and my Droid started speaking, telling us to turn around. Finally the iPhone 4 map software realized the error of its ways and essentially concurred with what the Droid had immediately figured out; we should have consulted the Droid Google Map or the Verizon VZ Navigator map software; either one, both available on the Droid line, work, and the systems they run on are much less expensive. Been using Droids for around three years now with good success.
User Rank: Moderator
9/19/2012 | 5:40:27 PM
re: iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews
If the map app is worse than the one that came with the iPhone 4S my company got me then it must really be super junk because the map app on my 4S is just plain junk.

It isn't even OK when you are in a good cell service area much less if you need to go out in the country somewhere. The interface is not easy to work with, and there are glairing holes in the feature set. I will stick with my dedicated Garmin GPS unit thank you very much.
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2012 | 5:02:27 PM
re: iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews
LOL @ the contradiction: "The iPhone 5 retains Apple's trademark, solid-feeling, metal construction, with an aluminum back this time, instead of a glass back. Like many Apple products, it's gorgeous." Wait, is the trademark glass or metal? Sorry, Mr. Mossberg, but like so many of your other friends in the media, your bias is showing and your article means nil.

Also, LOL @ all the glowing reviews from admitted Apple fanbois and fangirls. Guess it makes for yet another headline.
Dr. Scott Deagan
Dr. Scott Deagan,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2012 | 3:24:50 PM
re: iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews
Apple have mastered the art of creating brand loyalty. I myself was an Apple fan until I grew tired of the same old same old trays of icons and their aggressive (and morally questionable) litigious manoeuvres. I like living in a world with choice, something Apple are all too willing to go "thermonuclear war" on.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2012 | 2:29:20 PM
re: iPhone 5 Gets Gushing Early Reviews
Who Cares? Yea, it is the best iphoney yet but far behind in comparison to the Lumia 920!
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